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Issue 06. 2018

Christmas without the chaos How to avoid festive pressures.

Health and wellbeing Stay fit and healthy over the holiday season.

Community Garden

Adding fla healthy mealsvour to . See p7.

Holiday opening hours Troy Watson

CEO’s Message P roviding support to current and ex-serving members of the Defence Force is at the core of what we do and this year, with the support of the community, we have been able to reach more people than ever before. This year we have supported more than 1,290 Mates and 380 family members at our Family Recovery Centres and outreach programs across Australia. 822 new Mates and family members were inducted, giving them access to vital support services and care. We have had the privilege of walking alongside these people – whether it’s by connecting them with one of our physical rehabilitation and wellbeing services, providing them with psychologist appointments, or by their involvement in social connection activities. In 2018 we facilitated 22,837 face-to-face contacts, 3,531 psychology appointments, 11,789 physical rehabilitation and wellbeing connections, 7,517 social connections and hosted 89 mates in our Rehab Adventure Challenges. For me, some of the stand-out moments from the year include the inaugural Australia’s Greatest Mate campaign, the achievements of our Mates who took part in Invictus Games and seeing Mates4Mates continue to be a leading place of support for current and ex-serving Defence members.


Magazine | Dec 2018

As I reflect on this year I’m reminded just how important it is for us to continue to grow and review our support services to meet the needs of Mates who are wounded, injured or ill as a result of their service. At Mates4Mates, it’s our passion to provide a holistic approach to support through a range of tailored services and activities to suit Mates and their families. The holiday season in particular can be a difficult time for some and can trigger feelings of loss, loneliness and anxiety, among other things. In this edition we have shared some wellness tips to assist those apprehensive about the approaching season, along with an inspirational story from one of our Mates. From everyone at Mates4Mates, thank you to those who have supported us this year, whether by helping us raise awareness or funds for our cause, supporting our Mates or joining one of our programs. We couldn’t do it without you.

Troy Front cover image: (L-R) Ali Bowring and Mates4Mates Liaison Officer Brienne Gibbs.

All Mates4Mates Family Recovery Centres will be closed over the Christmas and New Year period, from Monday, December 24 until Tuesday, January 1. The Centres will open again from Wednesday, January 2. For more information, contact: Brisbane Family Recovery Centre 27 Douglas Street, Milton QLD 4064 PO Box 1220, Milton QLD 4064 Ph: 1300 4 MATES (1300 4 62837) or (07) 3493 6200 Email:

Townsville Family Recovery Centre 40 Anne Street, Aitkenvale QLD 4814 (Main entrance via Wotton Street) PO BOX 1334, Aitkenvale BC, QLD 4814 Ph: (07) 4771 9600 Email:

Hobart Family Recovery Centre 206 New Town Road, New Town, TAS 7008 (Main entrance and parking via Montagu Street) Ph: (03) 6242 8940 Email: A list of 24-hour support services available during the Christmas period are available on page 4.

Mates4Mates supports current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members, and their families, who are wounded, injured or ill as a result of their service. We are an initiative established by RSL Queensland. If you would like to contribute to our magazine please contact the Mates4Mates Partnerships and Engagement team via marketing@ or call 1300 462 837.

Meet a Mate



Brennan Smith, better known as BJ, is a regular face at the Mates4Mates Family Recovery Centre in Brisbane. Having served in the Royal Australian Infantry Corp and Royal Australian Air Force, BJ joined Mates4Mates in 2016. Here’s his story…. Q. Tell us about your service in the military? A. I joined the military to follow in my family’s military tradition and defend this great nation, Australia. I enlisted in the Royal Australian Infantry Corp in 1991 and was posted to the Royal Australian Regiment in Townsville. After discharge I worked in many industries and travelled the world. In 2001 I re-joined the military in the Royal Australian Air Force as a supplier. I was deployed to the Solomon Islands in 2003 and to the Middle East in 2004 and 2005. Q. How did you come to be involved with Mates4Mates? A. I first heard of Mates4Mates after completing a military program for posttraumatic stress in Brisbane. It was here that I met other veterans. While I was on this course some of the boys told me about Mates4Mates and the benefits and support services offered. I decided to get further help and become a Mate. Q. How have some of the services at Mates4Mates changed your life? A. Meeting others with similar issues and being supported, not judged, was very welcoming. I had a traumatic bike accident

travelling to a Mates4Mates rehabilitation and counselling session in 2017 and woke up from a coma with my left leg amputated. Mates4Mates supported my family and myself with counselling and various other support services through this time. This included organising work experience at a supportive company, where I was later offered a job. The staff and programs helped me regain my confidence and self-belief. Q. What motivates you to share your story with others? A. I was at a very negative and destructive point in my life when I came through the doors at Mates4Mates but gaining an understanding of what was going on with me was the turning point in helping me reclaim my life. I share my story in the hopes of encouraging others who are struggling to get help. It’s so important that you don’t avoid the issues but face them and deal with them. Getting support can help ensure you don’t destroy your life, or your family’s lives, with alcohol, drugs, prescription medicine or anger. Q. What’s one piece of advice you’d give other Defence members transitioning to civilian life?

I was at a very negative and destructive point in my life when I came through the doors at Mates4Mates but gaining an understanding of what was going on with me was the turning point in helping me reclaim my life. Brennan Smith ‘BJ’ A. Work out why you are discharging as the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. If you do decide to discharge, do some industry research on what you want to do next. Focus on getting as many qualifications as you can that pertain to the industry you’re trying to gain employment with. Also, get a clear scope on any Defence services and support you are entitled to, to assist with your transition. Magazine | Dec 2018


Christmas Coping with the pressures of

Written by: Georgia Ash, Mates4Mates Psychological Services Manager

Although Christmas is often a time to celebrate, many people find the holiday season stressful. Just the expectation that one should be ‘merry’ or ‘jolly’ over the festive season is enough for a person to feel stressed and overwhelmed during this time.


e know that there are a number of reasons why people become stressed over this period. This might be because you feel that you should be happy and stress-free when you’re not, or you feel pressure to make a change or have a New Year’s resolution. Sometimes not being able to attend Christmas social events or be with those you care about can also cause distress, or if you are grieving the recent loss of a friend or family member. This often translates into guilt for surviving when others may not have and can result in being apprehensive about the holiday period. If you experience one or more of these stressors, it is likely that you may identify with some emotions including anxiety, nervousness, feeling down or depressed, loneliness and isolation, feeling overwhelmed and like everything is too much, and irritability or anger.


Where to find help:

Keep in mind that these emotions are completely normal, and commonly occur during this time of the year. Physically, you may also notice that you eat more, drink more alcohol, smoke more, or increase the amount to cope. These behaviours may make you feel better at the time, but they only work for a short time. As a result, you may notice that you actually feel worse than you did before. It’s important to put steps in place before Christmas to help you get through. If feelings persist after the Christmas period, remember that a Mates4Mates psychologist can help. Whether you live local to a Family Recovery Centre (FRC) or afar, you can access a Mates4Mates psychologist either in person or via Skype or phone. Call Mates4Mates on 1300 4 MATES to make an enquiry and book an appointment.

Our top tips:

• Have someone you can call. This might be to talk about an issue you are struggling with or just to talk about other things and feel connected. • Write down your feelings as this can help you to feel less weighed down. • Call a 24-hour help service if you are feeling highly distressed (refer to the 24-hour services). • Accept invitations – you will feel better with others rather than staying at home and focusing on your problems. • Continue any hobbies or exercise that you usually do. • At times of stress, use a self-coping strategy. • Sign up to a free reputable site such as Smiling Minds or the AT EASE program for PTSD to help you manage stress and improve your quality of life.

24-hour services • Lifeline 13 11 14 • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 • Open Arms (previously VVCS) 1800 011 046 • Australian Defence Health All-hours Support Line 1800 628 036 • Visit your local hospital accident and emergency department If you or someone you know is in danger, go to your nearest hospital. If it is an emergency call 000.

Magazine | Dec 2018

Other helpful services • MensLine Australia 1300 789 978 • Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 • Defence Family Helpline 1800 624 608 • MindSpot 1800 614 434 • Black Dog Institute

Budget Christmas on a

We know just how expensive the festive season can be – but the good news is, you don’t have to spend up big at Christmas time.


hether you are religious or not, Christmas is about the giving and receiving of your time, support, love and attention. If you’re looking for a way to add meaning to Christmas this year, why not focus on gifts that will also give joy and hope to others. • Give the gift of hope by donating to a charitable organisation. • Give the gift of time by volunteering for a cause in your local community. • Give the gift of friendship by spending time with people who will be on their own this Christmas. If you have children, talk to them and let them know you’re not spending as much this year. Children understand much more than we give them credit for, so just be honest about why you want to cut costs. Include your children in any alternative Christmas ideas your family chooses to do. Have confidence that you are not depriving your children of anything by not buying them all the gifts they want. By encouraging them to think creatively and teaching them about the importance of giving back, you can all focus on the things that truly matter.

Other cost saving tips: • Set a Christmas budget and stick to it. • Get everyone to pitch in with both resources and effort. • Cut out unnecessary items like extra decorations. • Get creative by making your own Christmas cards and use newspaper to wrap presents. • Save on energy bills by turning off festive lights when no-one is in the room. • If you do decide to buy gifts, put a limit on how much each person can spend. A good way to do this is by organising a Secret Santa and asking everyone to just buy one gift.

Magazine | Dec 2018


Ending the year on a

Healthy note

Written by: Lauren Kelly, Mates4Mates Exercise Physiologist

You’ve been active, and your nutrition has been on point. But then (insert ominous music here), enter stage door left; the holiday season. Parties, time off and time with family and friends - it all seems to revolve around eating our body weight in food and wearing a groove into the couch. But did you know that this time doesn’t have to be the undoing of all your hard work throughout the year? All you need is a game plan. Here’s some tips to keep you on track:


Keep active.

Remember to be realistic and it’s OK to change your routine. Try shorter high intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions instead of longer workouts - you can do a lot of good in as little as 10 minutes. Keep active with the family - get outdoors, go for walks, swim and squat in the pool, or go for a bike ride with your kids. Take charge and plan active outings and activities. A friend or family member might also have the same goal – become training buddies and stay on track together.


Pencil it in.

Like any good plan, you need to write it down. Book physical activity into your calendar just like you would a doctor or hairdressing appointment. Try and move at a time that you’re more motivated, plan it around your day and make it happen.


Watch your sweets.

This is where a lot of us come unstuck. Tis the season of sugar after all. If you fill up on proteins, healthy fats and lots of salads, you’re more likely to feel satisfied and less likely to crave the sweet stuff. Make sure you drink plenty of water too. Often, we eat when we’re actually thirsty. If you’re really worried about portion control, try a calorie tracking app such as MyFitnessPal.


Magazine | Dec 2018


Mindful eating.

Mum was right; make sure you chew your food properly. See if you can chew your food 20 times before you swallow it and put your cutlery down between bites. It’ll feel like forever when you first start doing it, but you’ll enjoy the taste of the food more, take a bit of pressure off your digestive system and will most likely feel satisfied a lot sooner. Also remember to enjoy the experience with your loved ones - get off your phone, have a good conversation and some laughs. Don’t make food the entire focus.


Watch your headspace.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to keep up what you normally do in regard to diet and exercise. It can be tricky to maintain your regular routine, especially when you’re away from home. As long as you focus on daily movement and mindful nutrition to the best of your ability over the festive season, you’re on the right track. Remember, soulful chats and time with loved ones nourishes our body and mind in other ways.

Happy Festive Season! Right: Lauren with Mates at the Family Recovery Centre in Townsville

Lauren Kelly Lauren is an Exercise Physiologist at the Mates4Mates Family Recovery Centre in Townsville. With a love for fitness and learning, Lauren is passionate about musculoskeletal rehabilitation and the benefits of exercise and nutrition for mental health.

Gardening with


Our Mates recently put their green thumbs to good use building the first instalment of the community garden at the Brisbane Family Recovery Centre.


he herbs will be used during the fortnightly Community Kitchen social connection activity offered to Mates and their families. Community Kitchen gives Mates the opportunity to learn how to cook new recipes that are tasty, healthy and budget friendly. Recreational and family activities like these provide important social connection and opportunities for peer support.

It’s a good way to bring the Mates together and it gives us something to be proud of and look after. Ali Bowring

Entrepreneurs For our cause Education for


Thank you for fighting

ates4Mates recently teamed up with Prince’s Trust Australia to offer our Mates the opportunity to take part in The Enterprise for Veterans program. Mates attended the program in both Brisbane and Townsville which provided information on setting up a business and the tools and skills to draw on while selfemployed. Thank you to Prince’s Trust Australia for supporting our Mates and providing more opportunities for learning and education.

To be honest I didn’t really know what to expect from my day with Prince’s Trust, but it was amazing! It really gave me a new way of looking at being an entrepreneur, being prepared to evolve and learn from your failures. That, and the motivation to get stuff done. Geoff


ates4Mates has received generous support from the Australian Firefighters Calendar for a number of years now and we’d like to thank them for their continued support throughout 2018.

The Australian Firefighters Calendar supports many worthy, Australian charities through their annual calendar sales and Mates4Mates is proud to be one of the beneficiaries. Without the imperative support of organisations’ like the Australian Firefighters Calendar, we would not be able to continue providing support to veterans and their families when they need it most. To find out more or purchase your 2019 calendar, head to

Right: Firebrand Queensland staff Bronwyn Di Ruggiero and founder Justin Bygrave.

Magazine | Dec 2018


a M t e a t r o p Sup donate today With your support we can continue to make a tangible difference in the lives of our Mates and their family members. In 2018, we facilitated:



face-to-face contacts

psychology appointments



physical rehab & wellbeing connections

social connections

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Mates4Mates Magazine December 2018  

Mates4Mates Magazine December 2018